A SENIOR SriLankan Airlines captain risks losing his licence after he failed a breathalyzer test last week just before take-off of a flight to Colombo from Frankfurt.
As a result, the struggling national carrier was forced to delay the flight by 15 hours on August 19 until a replacement pilot was found. The passengers were provided hotel accommodation and food by the airline until the flight eventually took off the next day.
The airline, which is currently seeking a foreign managing partner, apologised to passengers and said the chief pilot, captain U.B. Ranaweera, a Sri Lankan national, has been suspended pending an inquiry.
On August 23, director general of civil aviation H.M.C. Nimalasiri wrote to the errant pilot for a response within seven days as to why his licence should not be revoked.
This is the second instance when a SriLankan Airlines pilot had failed a breathalyzer test, the first being nearly a decade ago.
On that occasion, the pilot was let off with a warning as he had not reached dangerous alcohol levels according to Sri Lankan standards, though the level was above prescribed limits in the breathalyzer test carried out in a foreign airport.
Frankfurt is among a few European destinations that SriLankan Airlines is pulling out at the end of this year’s winter season in a bid to trim losses and sever unprofitable routes.
Turkish Airlines, Hainan Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Garuda Airlines are among 10 foreign parties that have expressed interest in the national carrier. Bids for offers close at the end of the month.